June 29, 2010

Meditation Inspiration: Pema Chodron

Awakening Loving-Kindness (Shambhala Pocket Classics)

I love these tiny Shambhala Pocket editions for travel. On my Spain trip, I brought Awakening Loving-Kindness (Shambhala Pocket Classics) by Pema Chodron. I already own her book The Wisdom of No Escape: And the Path of Loving-Kindness and these are basically the same book (with a few edits), but I bought it anyway because I wanted a travel-size version and I find myself reading it again and again.

One of the chapters I found inspiring on my trip is called Sending & Taking, and it is about tonglen practice. This is basically a practice where you take all the good stuff you feel and send it out into the world for others to share in, and you take all the bad stuff (pain, fear) in the world and experience it personally so that others don't have to. She explains "This pain can be of benefit to others because I can be courageous enough to feel it fully so no one else has to." I know, I know... you're probably thinking "but it doesn't work that way" and on a certain level you're right. But I think the practice is really about developing compassion and that if you are able to do that, it really does benefit others. Pema explains that it means "you have the aspiration to be able to walk into any situation and be of benefit."

What do you think about this idea? And what would it take for you to "walk into any situation and be of benefit"?

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